Peter Thiel & Y Combinator fund a "litigation financing" startup to make money off other peoples' lawsuits

Legalist is a startup founded by Thiel Fellow Eva Shang and Christian Haigh, backed by Y Combinator: it will use data-mining to identify people who have been legally wronged by deep-pocketed aggressors and offer to finance their litigation in return for a share of the winnings. Read the rest

Some questions for those who are cheering Gawker's demise

Illo: Rob Beschizza
Gawker.com, the pioneering and controversial media blog, officially died yesterday. It was killed by billionaire Peter Thiel in his successful quest to bankrupt Gawker Media Group through a series of lawsuits he funded – most notably wrestler Hulk Hogan, who sued over the publication of a portion of his sex tape four years ago. Read the rest

"Closing the book", Gawker releases data on traffic and posting statistics

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Josh Laurito offers a fascinating look at the internals of a top-flight blog. Gawker, bankrupted by the Hulk Hogan lawsuit verdict and having sold off all its blogs (except Gawker.com itself) to Univision, is to cease publication this week.

Since it’s not totally clear to me what will happen to the site’s archives or how long I will have access to data about the site, today seems like a good time to jot down some of the numbers we have about our writers, our community, and posts.

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Univision to buy Gawker for $135m

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Univision won the auction for Gawker Media with a $135m bid, reports Peter Kafka.

... the auction is a disappointing conclusion for Gawker Media owner Nick Denton, who founded the company in 2002. Last year, as rival media companies like Vice, BuzzFeed and Vox Media (which owns this site) were raising money at increasingly high valuations, Denton was arguing that his company was worth $250 million or more.

The price was depressed by the circumstances of the sale: a $140m award against it after publishing a Hulk Hogan sex tape and losing the subsequent lawsuit, which was secretly funded by vengeful billionaire Peter Thiel. Though experts generally expect Gawker to prevail on appeal, it was forced into bankruptcy by the penalty and the only other bidder was Ziff Davis, at $90m.

This weds Gawker to The Onion and Fusion in the Univision website stable; The Onion is very much its own thing, but Fusion's web presence is quite similar to Gawker itself and one wonders will it blend? Read the rest

Hulk Hairgan

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Peter Thiel's lawyers are threatening Gawker with a lawsuit over its expose of Donald Trump's "hair," weeks after winning a lawsuit over Gawker's publishing of Hulk Hogan's "sex" tape. As we now have all the carnies in one tent—the billionaire, the millionaire and Donald Trump—it behooves us to imagine them sharing their props. Read the rest

Gawker files for bankruptcy, will sell itself after $140 million Hulk Hogan lawsuit judgement

Gawker founder Nick Denton talks with his legal team before Hulk Hogan testifies in Florida court, March 8, 2016.
Gawker Media was crushed by the $140 million legal judgment in Hulk Hogan's invasion-of-privacy lawsuit, which we now know was financed by a bitter and resentful Peter Thiel. Nick Denton's gossip news site Gawker.com published a sex tape featuring former wrestler Hulk Hogan, and the former wrestler (real name: Terry Bollea) sued with Thiel's help.

The publishing company is now putting itself up for sale, reports the New York Times, citing an anonymous source. Gawker Media Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday “after a judge overseeing the suit against the company entered the full judgment and denied Gawker’s request for a stay under terms the company could meet.”

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Gawker files for bankruptcy protection, entertains buyers

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Peter Kafka reports that Gawker's filed for bankruptcy protection to avoid paying Hulk Hogan the $140m judgment he won against it. Though legal experts believe the judgment will be much-reduced or overturned at appeal, the filing readies Gawker for the block. Ziff Davis, the tech publisher, is reportedly offering $90-$100m.

Gawker and its banker Mark Patricof assume that the company will eventually see higher bids while it is in bankruptcy protection. Last year, in advance of the Hogan trial, Denton figured his company was worth something in the $250 million to $300 million range.

But in any case the company won’t trade hands until Gawker either beats back Thiel and Hogan or it finishes a court-approved restructuring. Because no one wants to buy an ongoing lawsuit from Peter Thiel.

Ziff Davis itself is a company that has gone through the Chapter 11 process. The company was once a dominant force in the trade and hobbyist magazine business, but its fortunes declined along with the print industry, and it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008.

It emerged in recent weeks that billionaire Peter Thiel funded Hogan's lawsuit, exacting long-awaited revenge for Gawker having outed him as gay in 2007. Read the rest

What Amazon's Jeff Bezos thinks about Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker

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In this video from the Recode conference, an interesting reveal of what Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos thinks of the legal battle between Peter Thiel and Gawker, with Hulk Hogan as a most unfortunate proxy. Bezos is full of surprising insights here, and offers Thiel some tough love.

The only effective defense public figures like Thiel have against their critics, says Bezos: “Develop a thick skin.”

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Poster for the inevitable Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel vs Nick Denton and Pierre Omidyar movie

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Billionaire Pierre Omidyar "steps into the ring" in the long-running legal fight over privacy and journalistic freedom, fought lately between Hulk Hogan and Gawker Media. The intervention, on Gawker's side--Omidyar is himself a media man, now--came after it turned out billionaire Peter Thiel was secretly funding Hulk's suit.

Alternative subtitle: "No matter who wins, we news."

Cast it in the comments. I'm thinking Kenneth Branagh as Denton, Michael C. Hall as Thiel, Christopher Lambert as Omidyar, Hulk Hogan as Terry Bollea, and any random carnie as Hulk Hogan. Read the rest

Billionaire Peter Thiel secretly funded Hulk Hogan lawsuit against Gawker (Report)

Peter Thiel [Reuters]
Why would billionaire Peter Thiel want to bankrupt Gawker? That's the question circulating today, after Forbes reported that Thiel secretly backed Hulk Hogan's high-profile lawsuit against Nick Denton's publishing empire.

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Privacy concerns at the heart of the evolving web

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Hulk Hogan's courtroom sex-tape victory signifies how much the web has already changed, writes John Hermann: casual privacy invasion only disgusts readers who are all-too-aware that they might be next.

In 2012, the vast majority of Twitter posts that linked to Gawker’s video were lighthearted jokes — about Mr. Bollea’s physique, about the humiliation of a childhood idol, about fame-seeking… [but by] 2014, when hackers posted hundreds of photos obtained from celebrities’ private accounts. Publications that had previously trafficked in leaked nude photos — including Gawker Media properties and sites like BuzzFeed — shied away from publishing them.

Lurking in the background: Facebook, its policies and preferences. Read the rest

Gawker lost. Hulk Hogan wins $115M verdict against Gawker in sex tape trial

Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, sits in court during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Florida March 17, 2016.  Reuters

A Florida jury today ruled in favor of Hulk Hogan's privacy claims instead of Gawker's arguments for press freedom. The court handed the former wrestling star a $115 million verdict against Gawker Media over a 2012 gawker.com blog post about the now-infamous Hulk Hogan sex tape.

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Taiwanese Animators tackle the Gawker situation

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The legendary Taiwanese Animators boil down the chaos over at Gawker, which fired a lurid expose of an undeserving media executive at an internet that's grown tired of that sort of thing.

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Hulk Hogan allowed "one plain bandana" in Gawker sex tape trial

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According to The Tampa Bay Times, Circuit Judge Pamela Campbell said on Monday that she will permit Hulk Hogan one "plain bandana" during his trial against Gawker for posting excerpts from a secretly-taped sex video. "This is not going to be a carnival," she said several times. Read the rest

Every tabloid wants to die for its virtues

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You may have heard that a lawsuit targeting Gawker, over its posting of a Hulk Hogan sex tape, is going to trial, and that Gawker may have a long and unpleasant fight ahead of it. The Awl explains it best: in numbers! Read the rest

$200k raised to buy claimed video of Toronto Mayor smoking crack

Gawker hit its target with hours to spare, but have already warned readers that the ne'er-do-wells in possession of the alleged evidence might not be willing or able to do business. In that case, the funds will go to charity. Previously. Read the rest

Scientists tell Gawker, "It's probably okay to eat your own poop"

They aren't saying you should do it. There's really no reason to. (Even fecal transplants are done in a much less disgusting manner.) But if, for whatever reason, you were to ingest your own poop, you probably won't get sick and die from it. Somebody else's poop, on the other hand, is more risky. So, glad we got that cleared up. Read the rest